The Twelve Mysteries of Christmas, Day 3: Getting Your Holiday Ugly On

Can it get any worse? Amazingly, yes. Much worse.

Could it get any worse?  Amazingly, yes.

On the third day of Christmas, my true love queried me: “What’s up with the Ugly Christmas Sweater?”

Dear Soul,

This is indeed a puzzler. After all, Christmas is supposed to be a time of beauty . . . yet every year some benighted beings show up at holiday parties wearing sweaters so tasteless that their fellow guests secretly wonder if they imbibed a little too much spiced eggnog before dressing.

Fact is, according to no less a source than Time magazine, “hideous holiday versions only began to sprout up in the last several decades,” with Bill Cosby (as Cliff Huxtable) pioneering the trend on his 1980s sitcom. He was aided in this endeavor by Chevy Chase in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, although the sweaters’ popularity faded at the beginning of the 90s.

But fast forward to about 2001 and ugly caught on again with actual parties being dedicated to the garment, in which attendees of all ages raced to top each other in displays of holiday gaucherie. Late night talk show host Jimmy Fallon created a segment called “The 12 Days of Christmas Sweaters,” books appeared on the subject, and a “mockumentary” titled “True Life: I Love Ugly Christmas Sweaters” made the rounds on YouTube.

Amazingly, other countries have jumped on the bandwagon, as evidenced in a famous scene from Bridget Jones’ Diary, when Colin Firth, as Mark Darcy, shows up at a holiday party in a sweater his mother gave him, featuring a large and rather quizzical-looking reindeer.

My take: Love it or hate it, the ugly Christmas sweater is probably here to stay for a while . . . and perhaps that’s not such a bad thing. After all, it’s warm and practical in winter weather, and in a season as frequently filled with tension as it is cheer, who couldn’t use a good laugh?

Recipe for an Ugly Christmas Sweater

Frankly, I couldn’t come up with anything much better than these fine folks:


2 thoughts on “The Twelve Mysteries of Christmas, Day 3: Getting Your Holiday Ugly On

  1. Shameless truth: I wasn’t going to read this post, but once I saw ‘Getting your holiday ugly on’, I couldn’t help myself. I was not disappointed! Great article. I’m still laughing about it.

    Ugly sweaters. Ha! I’m thinking about buying my husband one for Christmas as a joke.

    Thanks, Lucie!

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